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Team of the Year winner: Ulster

Published 18/01/2013

The Ulster rugby team beat off tough competition for our Team of the Year prize,collected by skipper Johann Muller from rugby legend Mike Gibson
The Ulster rugby team beat off tough competition for our Team of the Year prize,collected by skipper Johann Muller from rugby legend Mike Gibson
Ballyclare High School
Cheryl Mulholland and swimmer Bethany Firth
Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlon, Stephen Martin, Jenny Campbell, Jimmy Kirkwood, Rebekah Chambers and Gillian Chambers.
Mairead McCotter and Liam Watson from Loughgiel Shamrocks
Craig Peacock, Mark Brooks , Gemma Bell and Matt Towe
Laura McBurney and Michael McKillop
Brian Henning, Chairman, Sport Northern Ireland, Sycerika McMahon and Pat Jennings
Michael ONeill and Pat Jennings
Player of the Year - Ryan Farquhar. Ryan Farquhar receives his award from Wendy Houvenaghel
Gary McClintock, Wayne McBrien, Joe Robinson and William McClintock from Donnemanna Cricket Club
Michael O'Neill and Jim Shaw
Players from St Oliver Plunketts
Gerry Armstrong with his family at the awards
Gerry Armstrong with his wife Debby
Tommy Bowe, Johann Muller and Paddy McAllister
Paddy Barnes and Mari Burns
Craig Gilroy and Mark Anscombe
Darren Brown, Paddy Barnes and Tom Cunningham
Johnny Campbell, Liam Watson, Barney McAuley and Neil McGarry from Loughgiel Shamrocks
Gillian Hetherington, Jim Gracey, Ruth Gorman and Ailish Rutherford
Trevor Ringland, Jane Wells and Keith Crossan
Allan Ewart, Wendy Houvenaghel and James Tinsley
Bethany Firth
Gerry Armstrong
Janice McGeagh, Sarah Weir, Ruth Gorman and Wendy Houvenaghel
Anca Bejenaru and Claudia Ionescu
Newenham de Cogan, Hazel Busby and Leslie Busby
Brendan Gallagher, Rosaleen Gallagher, Catherine Maguire and John Maguire
John Palmer, Yvonne Craig, Margaret Tollerton and Ivan Davis from Lisburn City Council
Steve Beacom, Pat Murray and Declan Bogue
Joanne Armstrong, Gerry Armstrong Snr and Rosaleen Murray.
Mark Brown and Yvonne McKernan
Steve Beacom and Richard McCormick
James Tinsley, Pamela Ballantine, Margaret Tollerton, Ivan Davis, Yvonne Craig and Allan Ewart
Brian Henning, Chairman, Sport Northern Ireland
Local Heroes Award: Fiona Haldane. Fiona Haldane receives her award from Nick Harkness, Sport Northern Ireland
Sports Person with a Disability: Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop. Jason Smyth's grandfather, Robert Smyth, left, and Michael McKillop receives their award from John Spottiswoode, MD Disability Needs Ltd
Team of the Year: Ulster Rugby.
Team of the Year: Ulster Rugby Ulster Coach Mark Anscombe and Captain Johann Muller receives their award from Michael Gibson
Young Team of the Year: St Oliver Plunkett FC U16. Coach Stephen Lynch, Captain Josh Lynch and other team members from St Oliver Plunkett FC U16 receives their award from Alistair Gillespie, Linwoods
Hall of Fame  - Gerry Armstrong. Gerry Armstrong receives his award from Pat Jennings, Billy Hamilton and John Maguire, Group Managing Director of Belleek
Sports Star of the Year - Rory McIlroy. Eddie Harper receives the award on behalf of Rory McIlroy from Mike Gilson (Editor Belfast Telegraph) Brian Henning, Chairman of Sport NI and David Lawlor of Linwoods.
Manager/Coach of the Year: Coach P J O' Mullan from Loughgiel receives his award from Phil Simmons
George Best Breakthrough Award - Michael Conlon. Michael Conlon receives his award from Michael ONeill
Paddy McAallister, David Lawlor and Tommy Bowe
Michael Conlon, Steven Murphy from Tesco and Paddy Barnes
Neil Brittain, Pamela Ballantine, Claire McCollum and Steven Johnston
Bethany Firth and Andrew Bree
Tiffany Brien
Alastair Gillespie, Claire, David McMahon
Mark Beattie, Donna McGuinness, Ruth McQuillan and Andrew Bree from Swim Ulster
Rory Winters, Mark Gribben and James Harrison from Methody
Lauren Curley, Jessica West and Tori Wallace from Ballyclare High School.
Jackie Fullerton and Claire McCollum
Sycerika McMahon and mum Mary McMahon
lMike Gilson
Janice McGeagh, Wendy Houvenaghel and Todd Kelman

The Team of the Year prize for 2012 was more competitive than at any other time in its history.

The nominees for this award are on this page, but others such as Linfield, Crusaders, Derry City, Ballinamallard United, Pegasus Hockey Club, Cairndhu Rowing Club, Armagh Ladies Gaelic team, the Northern Ireland Netball team and Lisnagarvey men's hockey team all had memorable years.

It takes a high class side to beat all the above and the others short-listed and that side is the Ulster Rugby team.

What an incredible 2012 the men from Ravenhill enjoyed with many shrewd judges declaring that the last 12 months have provided us with the best rugby ever produced by an Ulster side.

The first half of the year will be remembered for Ulster's fabulous march under Brian McLaughlin towards the Heineken Cup final when the likes of captain Johann Muller, Rory Best, Tom Court, John Afoa, Dan Tuohy, Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry, Ruan Piennar, Paddy Wallace, Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble and Darren Cave delivered heroics, including a famous quarter-final success in Munster, to take the side to the decider of Europe's top competition.

Unfortunately, Leinster proved too strong on a May day at Twickenham, but anyone thinking that would have a negative impact on Ulster were mistaken.

With new coach Mark Anscombe in charge, the Ravenhill heroes were magnificent in the second half of the year, starting their campaign with a record-breaking run of victories that took them to the top of the Rabo Pro Direct League and their Heineken Cup pool with players such as Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall and Nick Williams coming to the fore.

Ulster have been a joy to watch over 12 exciting months and deserve to be crowned Team of the Year.

Nominee - Loughgiel Shamrocks

The small club from Co Antrim created huge waves in hurling circles in 2012 by winning the All-Ireland title, ending a 29-year wait for the crown.

And boy did they do it in style producing a brilliant performance to beat Offaly side Coolderry in the decider in Dublin.

With the confidence gained by their Croke Park success in March, they went on to win the Antrim and Ulster titles again which perhaps could lead to yet more All-Ireland glory in 2013.

Nominee - Belfast Giants

In 2012 the Giants finally got their hands on the Elite League title, having agonisingly missed out by a single point in each of the two previous seasons.

Doug Christiansen's men were crowned champions on a thrilling Friday night at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast beating the previous champions and their only remaining rivals for the title, the Sheffield Steelers.

The Giants also reached the Challenge Cup final and put in a battling display in the Continental Cup.

Another sign of how successful the year was for the Belfast-based team was that some team members were chosen to represent Great Britain in the Intercontinental Cup tournament.

Nominee - Crossmaglen Rangers

The men from Armagh just cannot be stopped.

In March 2012, Crossmaglen Rangers became All-Ireland champions once again by beating Garrycastle in a replay 2-19 to 1-7.

It was another top drawer performance by Crossmaglen, who are the most feared and respected GAA club side in Ireland.

There was more to come from this brilliant team when Rangers won the Armagh and Ulster titles in the second part of the year.

Belfast Telegraph

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